New York City Paintings :A Glance at 50 Years
Edward Avedisian - Richard Merkin - William Clutz
September 19, 2013
through October 27, 2013
Carrie Haddad Gallery is pleased to present a rather special exhibit on view from September 19th to October 27th. New York City: A Glance at Fifty Years. A reception is planned for Saturday, September 21st from 6-8 PM. All are welcome.
New York City: A Glance at Fifty Years is a rare opportunity to view a spectrum of artwork that emerged during several highly charged decades of the 20th century and into the 21st. All three artists, William Clutz (1933-present), Edward Avedisian (1936-2007), and Richard Merkin(1938-2009) lived and worked in NYC and most of the paintings in this exhibit were created there. All three artists had a love for figurative painting at a time when the forefront of a very competitive and unforgiving market was abstraction and non-representational art. All teachers of their trade, (42 years at RISD for Merkin, 9 at Parsons for Clutz, and less for Avedisian), these artists were able to express the energy, beauty and fascination of NYC that is felt by anyone who has lived there. All are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Another commonality of the threesome is a love of the Hudson Valley. Avedisian moved here first in the 70's with his partner Judson Baldwin, Clutz arrived in the early 90's with his partner John Sheehy, and Merkin moved to Croton-on-Harmon about the same time, with his wife Heather.
As Carrie Haddad recalls, "I don't believe they ever met each other. Funny. The only other thing these artists have in common is that fact that I knew them all fairly well for many years. I met Richard Merkin one night, 35 years ago, at the restaurant One Fifth. Merkin was close friends with a man I was dating, a lawyer Tom Wolfe based a character on. We had a great time that night. Eddie and Richard met each other through a passion for clothing, and were both stunning dressers, with their custom-tailored shirts, suits, and shoes. Merkin met Tom Wolfe the same way - through the clothing. Merkin was charming, elegant, and curious. How fun to meet him again years later--and he remembered me! We became close friends and worked on many exhibits together and now I represent his art estate.
I met Edward Avedisian in 1987, before I even thought of opening a gallery on Warren Street. I wrote him a note to introduce myself because I liked his house - typical for Hudson. He and Judson were total characters and we eventually became very close friends - while we were speaking to each other! Edward was a complicated man and an excellent artist. I am very lucky to have access to so much of his work. And then I met William Clutz in 1993 when he walked into my gallery with one of his paintings to exhibit. That was certainly a lucky day for me. We have worked together ever since and, more than any other artist, I admire his talent, integrity, gentility and wit. Clutz's work in the exhibit is more of a retrospective spanning his last 50 years of painting and his very particular vision of NYC."
Paintings by William Clutz illustrate a new kind of light, unmasking the beauty of people in motion filling the streets of New York City. Born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and educated at the University of Iowa, Clutz moved to New York in 1955. With the aesthetics of the Modern and Pop Art movements in the forefront, Clutz was set apart by his persevering work in figurative painting. Coined “an Impressionist of the contemporary metropolis", the artist turned to man-made constructs of the urban landscape to serve as his motif for detailing sunlight and shadows. It is this dispersing light that denotes the vibrations of the city, affecting the mood and vitality of its inhabitants. Avoiding a photo-realistic effect, Clutz uses broad brush strokes to document movement. Clutz's astute observation combined with impeccable technique in drawing and composition is what enables him to incorporate the vivid, skeletal essentials while still retaining a fluidity of movement and feeling that is so definitively New York. As an instructor at Parsons New School for Design for over twenty years, Clutz shared with his students this necessity for technique as a precursor to coaxing emotion and movement from any subject, inanimate or otherwise. His work is in many museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Edward Avedisian was a true Wunderkind of the New York School in the early 60s and 70s. He migrated to New York City in the mid 50s from his hometown in Lowell, MA and Boston where he studied at the Boston Museum School. Avedisian was propelled into the art scene in New York, with solo exhibits in six different galleries from 1958 to 1963. He quickly rose to become an esteemed artist, most noted for his color field paintings and later for his bold, lyrical abstractions. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was also chosen to represent the United States in the Expo ‘67 in Montreal alongside Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Tom Wesselmann and Jasper Johns. By the mid ‘70s, Avedisian was thoroughly frustrated with the art scene. He grew to despise the celebrity status, the dealers, the parties and his decadent lifestyle in general. Avedisian moved to Hudson where his painting exhibited a representational shift. His landscapes depicted these new surroundings in blunt, flat shapes with a contemporary sense of scale and off-handedness. This exhibit will include works made during his early days in New York City.
The life work of Richard Merkin is an incredible documentation of art, theatre, music, style, literature and culture in New York City. Born and bred in Brooklyn, Merkin's studio was located on Broadway and 80th Street where he lived for 69 years, loving his urban playground with a fierce passion. His persona was as stylized as his paintings. With? custom suits, bowler hats, a large moustache and big booming voice, Merkin merged his role as a flaneur and socialite with his integrity as an artist and journalist. The result was a slew of works on paper and large scale oil paintings that conjure the spirit and fantasy of life in the city from the 20s through the 40s. His subjects were prominent figures prevalent in the arts and cultural arenas- for example, Bobby Short, Joan Didion, Frank Sinatra. Some of them were personal friends (of which he had many) and others were more understated people and events he merely deemed worthy of celebration. Tom Wolfe writes, "The typical Merkin picture takes legendary American images- from baseball, the movies, fashion, Society, tabloid crime, and scandal- and mixes them with his own autobiography, often with dream-style juxtapositions."
His highly stylized approach and exuberant color schemes graced the issues of many New Yorker magazine covers where he was employed as an illustrator for over 20 years. Beginning in 1963, Merkin was a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), a career that spanned 42 years. His legacy continues as students remember his flirtatious personality, his love of jokes, and personal style. In addition he was a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Harper’s and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. This frequent distribution of his work to a diverse audience makes him a unique and notable influence on a generation of New Yorkers and young artists. His work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution, and the Whitney. This exhibit will feature his tempera paintings made in the early 70s.